A new study by researchers at the University of Oxford has concluded with a region-specific global health model which could potentially save millions of lives through diet change.

The study is the first of its kind to look at the benefits of increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables and decreasing the consumption of red meat and other animal by-products.

Lead author of the study Dr Marco Springmann, said there would be great value in switching to a sustainable, plant-based diet

“What we eat greatly influences our personal health and the global environment,” he said.

As animal agriculture is the cause of 51 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, a change in diet would reduce emissions by 70 per cent by 2050. The global mortality rate would also be reduced by up to 10 per cent, or 8.1 million lives per year, according tot he report.

It claims developing countries would see the most significant changes, receiving 75 per cent of the overall benefits.

By eating five to seven portions of fruit and vegetables per day the mortality rates for a number of diseases will reduce significantly—there would be a 47 per cent reduction in deaths from heart disease, 26 per cent for strokes, and 16-18 per cent for cancer.

It is also projected there would be up to a 70 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with total economic benefits saving up to US$31 trillion.

“We do not expect everyone to become vegan…but climate change impacts of the food system will be hard to tackle and will likely require more than just technological changes,” Dr Springmann said.